April 26, 2016, PNLR E-Newsletter | The American Association For Justice Archive

April 26, 2016, PNLR E-Newsletter

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Failure to identify, repair intraoperative injury

photo of surgeons hands passing surgical instrument to other doctor while operating on patient

The plaintiff alleged that the gynecologist who removed her ovarian cyst failed to timely identify and repair a torn sigmoid colon that occurred during the procedure, resulting in a colostomy and further treatment. The jury awarded $1.52 million. Frith v. Bassett Healthcare Network.

Denise Frith, 48, underwent surgery to remove an ovarian cyst performed by gynecologist Stephen Graham. The morning after the procedure, Frith became severely ill, and remained so until the following day. Graham examined her and ordered a CT scan and a complete blood count (CBC). The scan revealed pulmonary edema and fluid in the pelvic region with the possibility of an abscess. The CBC and subsequent tests revealed a fluctuating white blood cell count. Graham ordered a pulmonary consultation, and Frith later underwent a drainage procedure.

On the fourth postoperative day, she “coded.” After Frith was stabilized, Graham ordered a cardiac consultation. Several days later, the physician also ordered a surgical consultation. Frith was diagnosed with sepsis and peritonitis the following day. Surgery the next day revealed a torn sigmoid colon. Frith underwent a colostomy, which was not reversed for about 8 months, and she required further surgery to treat a hernia.

Frith missed time from her job as a fast food restaurant manager, incurring $18,000 in lost income. She now has a risk of developing an obstructed colon and soft tissue adhesions. She also must undergo monthly colon cleanses.

Frith sued Graham, alleging he failed to timely identify and repair the torn sigmoid colon.

The jury awarded $1.52 million.

Citation: Frith v. Bassett Healthcare Network, No. 762/13 (N.Y. Super. Ct. Schenectady Cnty. Mar. 2, 2016).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Daniel R. Santola and Margie Soehl, both of Albany, N.Y.